Kleiza, Navarro, Khryapa. Ranking the Euroleague’s Best
All 58 Final Four participants ranked, from 1 to 58.
by Nick Gibson / @euro_adventures
The European brand of basketball prides itself on emphasizing team performance rather than individual worth. That’s cool, but it would also be cool to have a crib sheet at the ready when you hear a name that piques your interest. By replacing statistics and science with subjectivity, I’ve tried to provide that here. There is no formula or criteria for any given player’s ranking, just asking myself “Is he better than him” a few hundred times until I was left with this list. It is designed for your disagreement, so don’t disappoint.
1. Linas Kleiza, Olympiacos — Kleiza is like the ‘R1’ button in Grand Theft Auto. Mix it up and kill them creatively.
2. Juan Carlos Navarro, Barcelona — His facial hair knows the deal. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.
3. Aleks Maric, Partizan – When I saw his 20-20 exhibition in Denver earlier this year I knew he’d be good. But MVP good?
4. Viktor Khryapa, CSKA Moscow – I’m borrowing Chloe from ‘24’ to hack into the KGB’s surveillance system and see whether Andrei Kirilenko has been injecting him with viles of his blood from 2007.
5. Josh Childress, Olympiacos – High socks. Mouthpiece. Dirty ‘fro. Quintessential cool.
6. Milos Teodosic, Olympiacos – Daydreaming, Milos Teodosic appeared out of the mist. In a puff of smoke, Bo McCalebb dribbled into my head and a jab step later he was past Milos and into the lane. I awoke from that dream and slid Milos out of my top five.
7. Ramunas Siskauskas, CSKA Moscow – I’m guessing this is the first guy people will say I’m ‘disrespecting.’
8. Ricky Rubio, Barcelona – How this kid has flown under the radar for so long is beyond me.
9. Trajan Langdon, CSKA Moscow – Go ahead and chalk him up for at least two clutch threes in Game 1.
10. Bo McCalebb, Partizan – Nobody in the Euroleague was quicker with the ball in his hands. Some may have come close—Omar Cook, Bobby Dixon—but even they are a half-step behind.
11. Pete Mickael, Barcelona – You definitely can’t guard him and he can definitely guard you. Sucks.
12. Fran Vazquez, Barcelona – Changes more shots than a heroin addict.
13. Jan Vesely, Partizan – He’s about 8 rebounds and one big dunk away from pissing off all the NBA scouts who booked their trip to Paris before his ‘I’ll wait a year’ announcement.
14. Boniface N’Dong, Barcelona – He’ll make you say: Oh. Oh oh oh oh. Oh oh oh. When I, B-b-b-boniface, B-b-boniface.
15. Sasha Kaun, CSKA Moscow – He’ll be an All-Euroleaguer within two years. Confused Jayhawk fans are probably like, all ‘WTF’ and stuff.
16. Theo Papaloukas, Olympiacos – If basketball jerseys had sleeves, I would totally think he had tricks up them.
17. Erazem Lorbek, Barcelona – I know he should be higher. I just don’t care for his game. So that’s that.
18. JR Holden, CSKA Moscow – Rumored to have been granted Russian citizenship by way of fan voting.
19. Ioannis Bourousis, Olympiacos – Saves your TiVo the hassle of a “da-DOOP” and a “DA-doop.” I guarantee you’ll see it all unfold slowly the first time.
20. Sofoklis Schortsanitis, Olympiacos – In an economy based around buffet-style dining, Sofo is thought the culprit of Greek’s financial collapse.
21. Lawrence Roberts, Partizan – Says Serbia reminds him a lot of Mississippi because “hardly anyone speaks English.”
22. Nikola Vujcic, Olympiacos – A few minutes in the hot tub time machine and he’d step out dripping wet and 20 spots higher.
23. Yotam Halperin, Olympiacos – If Yotam goes back to Maccabi next season, maybe he’ll jump up to No. 6, a la LeBron.
24. Dusan Kecman, Partizan – The only guy on Partizan with a championship will see something he couldn’t last year for Panathinaikos: important minutes.
25. Pops Mensah-Bonsu, CSKA Moscow – His on again, off again relationship with NBA teams is enough to let me watch him in Europe and play with him in NBA 2K. Excellent.
26. Zoran Planinic, CSKA Moscow – My second favorite former Net after Todd MacCulloch.
27. Andrey Vorontsevich, CSKA Moscow – With the first signs of hairline recession, the transformation will be complete: Siskauskas 2.0.
28. Patrick Beverley, Olympiacos – Beverley’s rookie year with the Heat will be Jennings-Lite. Stick around Dwyane. Just buy Siohvaughn a beach home in a galaxy far, far away.
29. Aleksander Rasic, Partizan – If he comes out on fire then I apologize for not top-15ing him. If he’s ice cold, I’m sorry I didn’t cut this list to 57 and save you the time.
30. Gianluca Basile, Barcelona – More threes than anyone in Euroleague history. His inclusion in the top 30 is of the lifetime achievement variety.
31. Petar Bozic, Partizan – Should thank God he’s starting on a Final Four team.
32. Slavko Vranes, Partizan – At 7-6, he’s the tallest player ever to play in a Euroleague Final Four. Also the tallest person ever to play in the NBA (Knicks, Blazers) and not make the Playoffs. Mark Eaton, Manute Bol, Gheorghe “My Giant” Muresan, Chuck Nevitt and Shawn Bradley all taller, all made the tournament.
33. Scoonie Penn, Olympiacos – I hope Michael Redd sends the Penn family royalties with each paycheck.
34. Matjaz Smodis, CSKA Moscow – Would be in the Top 20 easily were it not for a back injury that sidelined him the entire Euroleague season. Might see 10 minutes in the semifinal.
35. Dmitry Sokolov, CSKA Moscow – Looked like he would be ‘the guy’ down low for CSKA until he got hurt. Enter: Sasha Kaun.
36. Jaka Lakovic, Barcelona – Where do you rank one of the most prolific guards of the decade who probably won’t play due to injury? Exactly. Number 36.
37. Xavier Rabaseda, Barcelona – Xavier, you sly devil you. If you hadn’t declared for the draft you’d be in my mid-to-low forties. But no; you forced me to research the living daylights out of you and search for your strengths. I hope you’re happy.
38. Loukas Mavrokefalides, Olympiacos – I don’t even think I’d recognize his face if he walked into my dingy hotel room right now. Just one of those guys.
39. Branislav Djekic, Partizan – Dusko Vujosevic ran the offense through this teenage power forward for the first few games of the season. Not that it worked or lasted, but that’s like getting a Presidential endorsement from a Kennedy.
40. Kostas Papanikolaou, Olympiacos – When he’s starting for Greece in Eurobasket 2011, I don’t want to say I had him below Panagiotis Vasilopoulos.
41. Anton Ponkrashov, CSKA Moscow – My memories of CSKA Moscow games never include Ponkrashov, yet his name shows up in postgame box scores. I’ll find out if he’s real this weekend.
42. Victor Sada, Barcelona – My associate at Euroleague Adventures—also named Slam, which can get quite confusing—loves him some Victor Sada. He and I disagree occasionally.
43. Strahinja Milosevic, Partizan – I’ll admit, Strahinja landed here randomly and now I’m stuck. Sorry, pal. Could be worse.
44. Roger Grimau, Barcelona – Meh.
45. Lubos Barton, Barcelona – The former Valparaiso man had a solid 2009 with DKV Joventut before trading touches in Badalona for irrelevance in Barcelona.
46. Panagiotis Vasilopoulos, Olympiacos – By re-reading No. 43 and using deductive reasoning, it might be possible to figure out my general feelings toward Panagiotis.
47. Jordi Trias, Barcelona – I give Jordi Trias a hard time, but it’s only because he’s bad.
48. Artem Zabelin, CSKA Moscow – Yet another prospect rotting away on the CSKA bench. He should try Aleksey Shved-ing his way into a loan next season so he can, you know, play basketball and things of that nature.
49. Aleksander Mitrovic, Partizan – When I walked around Denver with these guys in October, hitting a bar was not an option. Partially because they had a game against the Nuggets the next day, but also because only a couple could legally buy a beer. Of that group (Vesely and Djekic not included), Aleksander showed the most promise this season. That’s how he crept out of the 50’s.
50. Konstantinos Sloukas, Olympiacos – Really testing my knowledge at this point…
51. Stevan Milosevic, Partizan – See No. 44.
52. Nemanja Besovic, Partizan – The smallest head you’ve ever seen on a 7-footer’s body. Please Google image him if you have the time.
53. Victor Keyru, CSKA Moscow – A worse version of Andrey Vorontsevich. Depth chart don’t lie.
54. Vladimir Lucic, Partizan – Hops, jumper.
55. Stefan Sinovec, Partizan – Quicks, handles.
56. Sava Lesic, Partizan – Post moves, kinda.
57. Nikita Kurbinov, CSKA Moscow – Whew. Close one, Nikita.
58. Andreas Glyniadakis, Olympiacos – ‘Tis better to ride pine and be presumed terrible than to play a few minutes and remove all doubt.
Nick Gibson is the creator of Euroleague Adventures, an American blog/podcast devoted to international basketball. He’s convinced Trajan Langdon is the next Chris Mullins and still thinks the Cavs will rue the day they passed on Darko. He is taking a year off of school to travel around Europe and track Nikoloz Tskitishvili’s development which, frighteningly, is far less expensive than a semester at Syracuse University. He can be reached at email@example.com.